Performance at SF Sketchfest

February 4, 2012

source: SF Weekly
Last weekend Robin attended and performed at the SF Sketchfest.

The concept of Set List is simple. Yet to most comedians (even the most seasoned) the idea represents a yawning hell's mouth of the purest terror. Set List requires that each comic take the stage without any prepared material. Each is given a list of five or six topics. Using each of those topics in succession, the comic must improvise a 15-minute set.

On Friday night at Cobb's, SF Sketchfest hosted an edition of Set List featuring seven well-established comedians (plus one surprise addition) who, despite professions of discomfort and anxiety, made mostly effortless magic out of the show's daunting challenge.

The "local up-and-comer" was Robin Williams, who was greeted by pure ecstasy. Williams immediately launched into his set, staying true to the format, and brought the house down. There was an emotional element behind Williams' appearance, of course -- the native son returning to the city where he developed his talent as a comedian. Even more obvious, though, was Williams' unflagging improvisational ability. What we saw Friday was not a reminder of greatness, but greatness itself. Williams bored head-on into each topic, riffing with the same extraordinary agility he has always displayed in a stand-up setting. He worked through each of his assigned topics, and he addressed the final one as a matter of pure comic intuition -- by the time he got around to looking at the set list itself to check the final topic, he had already covered it.

The audience screamed for more, like a jazz or folk crowd of yore. Williams obliged, improvising for another 10 minutes or so. When Pepitone screamed, "Apple butter!" from the back of the house, Williams created an entire commercial for the product, being sure to mention the ever-present grit in the jar and, of course, its lubricative properties.

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